INDIA’S EXTRADITION CASE AGAINST THREE BRITISH SIKHS COLLAPSES IN HUGE EMBARRASSMENT TO PRITI PATEL
Sikhs call for the Home Secretary to resign
London – 22 September 2021
Earlier this morning over a thousand Sikhs from across the UK gathered outside Westminster Magistrates Court to show solidarity with three British Sikhs from the West Midlands facing extradition to India.
At the start of the initial trial to establish if there was a prima facia case against the three British Sikhs Daniel Sternberg, representing the Indian government, admitted to District Judge Michael Snow that the evidence was not sufficient to make a case. He accepted the court should discharge each of the men.
Edward Fitzgerald QC, representing one of the three Sikhs, said the extradition request was “made on the basis of wholly unsubstantiated allegations”. District Judge Michael Snow was far from impressed why the case had come to court nine months later and discharged all three British Sikhs stating they were innocent.
He questioned why the Home Secretary, Priti Patel in December 2020 had certified the extradition request and ordered a judge to issue arrest warrants.
Daniel Sternberg had no answers on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) or Priti Patel and simply shrugged his shoulders and sat slumped on the bench with his head bowed.
Outside the court solicitor Gareth Pierce described the case as exceptional and accused the Indian government of requesting the extradition of the three British Sikhs that they knew were innocent.
She said it was a very serious matter and it was not only a lack of evidence, but the prosecution had failed to tell the court that there had already been trials of other men in India in the same case and all had been acquitted. She accused the CPS of trying to use the same fabricated evidence where witnesses had been coerced.
She expressed some disappointment that the case had finished without the defence being able to present its evidence. Had it been heard it would have provided a convincing history of the behaviour of Indian police towards Sikhs and highlighted how India’s draconian and repressive laws are used to target the Sikh minority.
In an important development she referred to Jagtar Singh Johal and how police officers who have been convicted for disappearances, torture and murder are permitted to provide evidence in such cases. She pointed out one of the police officers involved in this case had been identified by Jagtar Singh Johal as his torturer.
She pointed out everything emerging from this case was relevant to the UK Government in the case of Jagtar Singh Johal as she expressed hope the new Foreign Secretary would “take up arms” against human rights abuses for those detained in India and do something for Jagtar.
Outside court a representative of the family hailed this as a “victory for the Khalsa Panth” with chants of “the Khalsa will prevail”.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “We have maintained all along that Priti Patel started extradition proceedings to simply appease the right wing Indian government that she enthusiastically supports.
“When the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab visited India in December 2020 to discuss a trade deal it was too much of a coincidence that Priti Patel disgracefully sanctioned the extradition process and ordered the arrests the next day.
“This was an entirely politically motivated course of action for which Priti Patel must be held to account. She certified the extradition request and ordered the arrest of the three British Sikhs without any new evidence that would stand up in a British court.
“Priti Patel should resign for failing to follow due process and doing India’s dirty business of trying to silence British Sikhs.
“She has wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money to play roughshod with the lives of three innocent British Sikh men, their wives and children in a shocking ordeal over the last nine months and held the Sikh community to ransom.”
Harnek Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK) email@example.com